Date of Graduation

Spring 5-21-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in International and Development Economics (MSIDEC)


College of Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Bruce Wydick


Past research has found child sponsorship results in higher aspirations, mental health, and educational outcomes. In this research, I explore the extent to which these outcomes can be influenced by letters and gifts sent from the sponsor to the child. However, there is limited research on the effects of direct relationship between sponsor and child. Using 1142 sponsor letters and a 2017 survey from Compassion International, an international child sponsorship organization, we find that letters and gifts from sponsors have a statistically insignificant impact on outcomes including education, mental health, aspirations, social connectedness, nutrition, religiosity, hygiene, and views on drugs, sex, and alcohol. Although a larger sample would be able to provide more definitive conclusions, we can rule out moderate-sized effects with our current sample, an exception being that more encouraging letters appear to foster deeper spiritual outcomes.